Neighbourhood Watch calls for balance between safety and cuts

West Sussex County Council needs to find a balance between safety and savings when it comes to street lighting.

Such was the message from Crawley Neighbourhood Watch as work to replace the town’s street lights continued.

jpco-19-2-14 Neighbourhood watch meeting, Three Bridges (Pic by Jon Rigby)

jpco-19-2-14 Neighbourhood watch meeting, Three Bridges (Pic by Jon Rigby)

Contractors working for the county council have replaced 17,500 lights in the past 12 months.

During that time, there have been complaints from residents about the re-siting or even loss of lights.

Dave Hathaway, of Crawley Neighbourhood Watch, said: “The pressure on WSCC to trim lighting budgets needs balancing with residents calling for maintained lighting levels to ensure no reduction in security or safety.

“For Crawley it is surely important that new lighting is efficient but does not reduce our feelings of security or discourage us from going about our normal business.”

A spokesman for West Sussex County Council said there was “no evidence” its lighting policy had led to an increase in crime.

He added the matter was due to be discussed at a meeting of the scrutiny committee on February 26.

Crawley Neighbourhood Watch has more than 230 co-ordinators, each overseeing one or more streets, and 7,500 members.

The numbers may be healthy but the team is looking for co-ordinators for Langley Green, Tilgate, Ifield West and West Green.

Describing the importance of NHW, John Wright, of the Sussex Neighbourhood Watch Federation said: “It’s about feeling safe in your community. It’s about bringing community cohesion and being part of a family.”

Chief Inspector Justina Beeken, of Sussex Police, said: “We work closely with our members and they feel confident in reporting suspicious and criminal activity to us.

“People join NHW to make the areas where they live safe, friendly and pleasant places to be, and it works.

“By local communities improving security, increasing vigilance and creating and maintaining a caring community, this will help reduce opportunities for crime.”